Last year, Ahmed Best did a brave thing.
The actor, known for his unfortunate turn as Jar Jar Binks in those Star Wars films we don't talk about, took to Reddit to conduct one of its probing 'Ask me anything' interviews. There were laughs, rants and one particularly interesting comment about who else was lined up to play Jar Jar that many took for a joke.
I auditioned. Michael Jackson really wanted to do it but George picked me. Marinate on that one. I still am.
Michael Jackson. Michael 'Moon Walking' Jackson. Michael 'Lock Up Your Sons' Jackson, playing Jar Jar Binks? Surely Best was pulling our lightsabers?
It turns out he wasn't.
Vice recently brought up the topic in an interview with Best, in which he expanded on the matter.
That's what George told me. Me, Natalie Portman, and George's kids—we were at Wembley arena at Michael Jackson's concert. We were taken backstage and we met Michael. There was Michael and Lisa Marie [Presley]. George introduced me as "Jar Jar" and I was like, That's kind of weird. Michael was like, "Oh. OK." I thought, What is going on? After Michael had driven off, we all go back up to a big afterparty. I'm having a drink with George and I said, "Why did you introduce me as Jar Jar?" He said, "Well, Michael wanted to do the part but he wanted to do it in prosthetics and makeup like 'Thriller.'" George wanted to do it in CGI. My guess is ultimately Michael Jackson would have been bigger than the movie, and I don't think he wanted that.
It's interesting to think that Jackson wanted to take the role in a different direction from Lucas' vision - away from the CGI effects that have aged so badly, toward the make-up and puppetry that JJ Abrams is promising to use.
Who knows how the role could have turned - it could have seen Episode I, II and III shrug off one of its worst additions. Or it could have been Bad.